When Things Don't Go Well When things are on an even keel or on a comfortable and predictable plateau, it is not difficult to be on the path of obedience. However, once in a while, Allah shakes up your life to test your sincerity to Him. Those in a state of obedience to Allah will accept that what Allah has ordained is the best for them, and those whose sincerity is shaky, will struggle to cope with the tests. Trials in life are inevitable, and as believers, we must be prepared for our faith to be tested. These can be in the form of calamities or with the loss of things which are precious and beloved to us. Surah Al Baqarah at 2:155 makes specific mention of things that we will be tested with: “fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits [of your labour].” Hence, the Qur’an pinpoints our most basic instincts and emotions which lie at our primal core: fear, which denotes the absence of security; hunger, which denotes the inability to satisfy our most basic needs for physical survival; and the loss of our general material needs, including the people around us. The Path of the Believer What should we do when things do not go that well? The solution is simple, for Verse 2:155 of Surat Al Baqarah concludes “… but give good tidings to the patient.” Hence, the Qur’an has already told us the attitude to adopt when hardship falls upon us. With patience, we have demonstrated that our love of and trust in Allah outstrips the love of the things the loss of which we suffered. What does this mean? An obedient person accepts that nothing, absolutely nothing, happens without the will of Allah. When there is any change in circumstance or any event that disrupts the equilibrium, they do not become unbalanced or get upset about the changes, but rather, they accept the changes with patience and trust in Allah. This does not mean that believers are defeatists or losers in life. It simply means they recognize that when certain uncontrollable events happen, the best course of action is to accept such changes calmly. Despite the external hardships, their inner tranquility and emotional and psychological ability to deal with events remain intact. If our faith in Allah is weak, it seems that this state of mind requires a superhuman effort. However this is not the case at all. It is simply a matter of letting go, and submitting our will to Allah’s Will. We give priority to Allah’s plans instead of our personal ones. It requires a simple shift of control – to transfer the trust and reliance that we have in ourselves, abilities and possessions; our dependence on our money and status; our reliance on the people around us – to trust, dependence and reliance in Allah alone. Faith and love in Allah is such a beautiful thing. With the passing of every test comes rewards, both tangible and intangible, in this world and in the hereafter. All tests by Allah elevate us to a higher level in His eyes, but only if we pass them. Hence, we can either get upset, question, analyse, refuse to accept undesirable events … we can weep bitter tears, complain, shake our fists in anger - but all these misguided emotions, desires and confusions will not help us in any constructive way. On the other hand, we can submit to the will of Allah, because we know that there is a higher power which has caused these events to occur. Allah is the best Planner, and we are optimistic that whatever has happened, was the best for us. If we adopt this conviction, we are effectively entrusting the burden of our fate to Him. We will have confidence that the same God who has taken care of us all our lives, will take care of us through our difficult moments. If we pass the test and exercise patience and gratitude in adversity, He will eventually reward us with something even better to compensate our obedience and trust in Him. Indeed, in time the believer will come to understand how wonderful a gift Allah has bestowed upon us by not only providing us with this facility, but also in rewarding us for doing so. There is no reason to worry The One who created you has already identified your abilities and limits. When He tests you, He already knows your individual circumstances and your breaking point. He will never burden you with something that is beyond your capability. We will be tested again and again throughout our lives – this is an inevitable fact of life. In Surah Al Baqarah, we are reminded: “Or do you think that you will enter Paradise while such [trial] has not yet come to you as came to those who passed on before you? They were touched by poverty and hardship and were shaken until [even their] messenger and those who believed with him said, "When is the help of Allah ?" Unquestionably, the help of Allah is near.” [2:214] However, there is no reason to worry. There is no reason to fear. The believer is safe in Allah’s care. The help of Allah is coming. Hence, control your inclination to break down and give up. The path to Paradise is paved with adversity and trials, but the believer must stay focused. Do not give in to your irrational emotions, for if you are with Allah, the solution is close at hand. Often these events are a catalyst for some inner reflection. Could it be that Allah has taken away your means in order for you to turn towards Him? Could it be to purify your heart of your love for the material world? Could it be to keep your arrogance in check? Could it be to absolve your sins? Could it be to strengthen you in preparation of your own future? Whatever the reason, you have to keep holding on to your trust in Allah. To do that, you have to quell your personal desires, anger, disappointments, frustrations, and all other futile and negative emotions. Instead, change your attitude and your mindset to a positive and humble one. Trust in Him, be patient, and things will be fine. What is the alternative? The first two verses of Surah Ankabut pose the following statements to us: “Do the people think that they will be left to say, "We believe" and they will not be tried? But We have certainly tried those before them, and Allah will surely make evident those who are truthful, and He will surely make evident the liars.” [29:2- 29:3] Do we want to be classified as those who fail the trials that Allah has given to us? Do we want to be labelled as liars and disbelievers in Allah’s Kingdom? A disobedient person will become angry, argue with Allah, doubt in Allah, think that Allah is punishing him, resist the changes even though they are beyond his control. A disobedient person will think he knows what is best for him better than his Creator does, and refuse submit to Allah's will. Instead of trying to comprehend the wisdom behind the events, the disobedient will get caught and sucked into a self made cyclone of self pity, denial, anger and despair. This escalates his inner turmoil, confusion, sadness and impaired judgment. Worse, he runs the risk of Allah prolonging his suffering due to his lack of gratitude and trust to Allah. All inner peace is shattered; he is in a whirl of internal and external chaos and everything becomes complicated. If one adopts this attitude, where is the sincerity to Allah? It is not a happy ending ... he will end up in an emotional and psychological mess and will slowly and surely destroy his happiness for this life and the next. Allah’s Sequence The above may sound simplistic, but life is really that simple. Allah has a certain sunnah, a sequence or manner in which events unfold according to His rules, based on a simple cause and effect formula. How Allah deals with you depends on how you deal with Him. If you believe in Allah, you simply need to eliminate all your pre-conceived notions about handling your life affairs and problems, and follow the sequence commanded by Allah in the Qur’an. You have a choice of which state you want to be in. Whatever the tragedy, it is not the end of the world. Others have suffered worse and have triumphed. By empowering yourself with trust in Allah, you will realize that even though the circumstances may be tough, your attitude and ability to rise above all these events have given you the means to stay balanced even if the world is shaking. With the passing of time, you will also understand that whatever Allah chose for you, even if in the form of a calamity, was actually the best for you, even if you did not understand it when the events occurred. So be patient and seek the help of Allah in times of distress. Allah is waiting for you to turn to him, so turn towards Him and let him navigate the way through your turmoil.